Is Social Media Really Going to Help?

From a small business to the larger enterprise, testing the waters with social media is the latest trend. Some would say it’s the great saviour for the online business community.

However venturing out into the world of social media isn’t as simple as setting up a facebook fan page, opening a twitter account or just dropping some social sharing widget onto your website. Things can go sour very quickly if you don’t do it right, after all no one wants to have that facebook fan page with only 10 fans.

You really have to consider your customers and what are they thinking about social media before you begin.

Are they willing to engage with you on a social media site?  Does social media factor into their interactions with your business?  Are they willing to have a conversation with you online?   Remember just because social media works for some businesses, doesn’t mean that it will automatically work for your customers and business.

Start Small and Plan

What is really required is a little social media planning.   Like a good holiday or  building your dream home, it takes some planning. Especially if you want to avoid wasting your money later on repairing a costly mistake not discovered early on.   Remember an hour spent planning and mapping out the consequences of social media could save you days of frustration later on.

You may consider that you know your customers really well, to the point you understand all their needs.  However do you know what their social media habits are?  Do you have direct evidence of these habit, not just third party hearsay.

For instance you may discover, as we did recently, that your potential and current customer base accesses the web mostly from work. Where they have all the social media sites access blocked.  In this case social media in external sites such as facebook is a waste of time and effort.

Implementing social media correctly into your site, so that it’s really going to work for you, requires a professional.  Someone who understands how to conduct the analytical research with your customers and design the social interaction so it meets the requirements of your customers.  The end result should be providing your customers with a great experience using your services and interacting with your staff on various social sites.   It’s about designing the complete service from the beginning, not just the website.

This is about more than just pretty design.  It’s about the first step in laying the foundations for good planning.